Parents submit proposal to DODDS on status of Okinawa sports
December 17, 2003
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A group of parents submitted a proposal over the weekend to Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific’s regional office that calls for immediate inclusion of Okinawa into a fully integrated Pacific regionwide high school sports schedule.
There was no immediate response from DODDS officials.
The proposal from the group, calling itself K24EO (Kubasaki and Kadena for Equal Opportunity), was sent by the body’s leader, Lon LaGrave, a sixth-grade teacher at Camp McTureous’ Bechtel Elementary and parent of two Kadena High School athletes.
Since October, LaGrave las led a battle to promote “equal opportunity” for Okinawa’s student-athletes.
LaGrave and other K24EO parents have argued it is unfair that DODDS students in Japan and Korea are permitted to miss class time to compete in regular league play, while students on Okinawa are not. DODDS schools in Japan and Korea miss on average 2½ class days per sport per season to travel and compete against each other and international schools in regular-season play, DODDS officials have told Stars and Stripes.
Kadena and Kubasaki only travel off-island for Far East tournaments, and have only each other and Japanese schools to play during the regular season.
DODDS-Okinawa officials have said their priority is classroom achievement.
In the proposal, a copy of which was provided to Stars and Stripes, K24EO called for a task force to meet and formalize the “short-term integration” of Kubasaki and Kadena into a spring soccer, baseball and track and field schedule with DODDS schools in Japan and Korea.
It also proposes the long-range, permanent integration of Kubasaki and Kadena and Japan and Korea schools into a full-fledged schedule starting with school year 2004-05.
Henry Meyer, spokesman for DODDS-Okinawa district superintendent Dr. Gayle Vaughn- Wiles, said he had not yet received the proposal and it will not be on the agenda for the Jan. 7 meeting of the Okinawa District Advisory Council, a body including DODDS-Okinawa and military officials from all services on the island.
LaGrave acknowledged that immediate change might not happen, but he’s hopeful progress can be achieved.
“I think that DODDS’ people are professional educators and that they’ll recognize the value of these activities,” LaGrave said.